A housewife’s dream: the perfect house, beautiful children, a delightful husband, and “piles and piles of money”. All these things and more fill Nora’s head at the start of Henrik Ibsen’s _A Doll’s House_. Nora’s husband Torvald Helmer has just become the manger at the bank he works at and will receive a significant raise. Nora acts as a child flitting around the house and telling anyone and everyone about her good fortunes while Torvald indulges her and call her names such as “lark” and “squirrel”.
Nora unwraps her purchases from the day flaunting them as she expresses her jubilation about the vast amount of money that will soon be at her disposal. Ibsen fluidly weaves in the exposition of the play through Nora and her husband’s first conversation. The reader immediately senses the kind of relationship the two of them have. Torvald chastises Nora for her habit of being a “spendthrift”. Torvald’s “little lark” Nora is just a simple woman who cannot ...view middle of the document...
Perhaps because of Mrs. Linde’s lower social status, Nora feels able to confide in her friend, her deepest secret and the play’s main conflict.
When Torvald was sick many years ago, doctors urged the couple to move south to Italy to allow him to recover. Without the means to make the trip, it seemed Torvald’s health was in jeopardy. Nora quickly concocted a plan. She would borrow the money, but tell Torvald it had been provided to them by her father because he did not approve of borrowing money. Nora tells Mrs. Linde that she has been paying back the money with whatever means she has been able to acquire. Mrs. Linde tells Nora she should tell Torvald the truth, but Nora protests saying it would ruin her in his eyes.
The next visitor to the Helmer house provides the real problem. Krogstad is a man with a low social standing in the community because of his reputation for corrupt dealings he was involved with in the past. He works at the bank with Nora’s husband in an inferior position. Back when Nora needed the money for the Italy trip, Krogstad arranged for the loan. In order for a woman to be approved for a loan her husband or father must sign off on it, Nora forged her father’s signature on the contract. Krogstad is using this information to blackmail Nora into convincing her husband to allow him to keep him job at the bank. Nora refuses, and Krogstad says if she does not he will inform her husband of the whole ordeal.
Ibsen published A Doll’s House in 1876. At that time for a woman to arrange a loan contract was uncommon. But, Nora did not think about this when raising the funds to save her husband’s life. The doctors told her that a trip south was the only thing that could save her husband and so out of love Nora found a way to make it happen.
Ibsen’s work is easy to follow, but each scene packs a punch. Published in the 1800s, A Doll’s House is still relevant today with themes of greed, love and social class that people still face today. By examining stage directions, important glimpses of character’s motives can be observed. When it was published, Ibsen’s work was a very important step in the feminist movement. Today’s readers will closely examine the relationship between husband and wife and ask themselves if we have really progressed that much since then.